When you think of this brand of Southern Rock, the state of Arizona is not one that comes to mind. Maybe Papa Van Zandt took a vacation out west as these guys are the reincarnation of the terrific sound made famous by the boys called Skynyrd that reside on the other side of the country. Don't get me wrong, Hogjaw are a marvelous band that has taken up residence in the territory that was owned by groups such as Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet. Although they might dwell there they have forged their own sound that instantly hooks you like a catfish and then reels you in with their infectious pure American rock and roll storytelling.
What better way to start this trek than with a little "Rollin Thunder". Out of the gate with six strings a blazing, Hogjaw puts the hammer down and starts you out with some whisky fueled high energy rock and roll. Right off the bat you get a dose of what the band is all about as they give you not only the high powered music but a little bit of Southern wisdom in the lyrics. Yes, as with this genre there is a message along with the foot stompin', beer drinking heavy metal. Hogjaw brings to you a portrait of the American way of life from the perspective of the working class Southern style. Skynyrd brought you God and Guns, Hogjaw brings you moonshine, 18 wheelers, catfish and a way of life that is sorry to say becoming a memory.
Moonshiners lament could have been the title of the track "Blacktop" as the band turns to a slowed down foreboding style complete with the mournful slide guitar as you and Cyrus make a corn liquor run. This one is musical storytelling that is just one helluva good time. There is a twist to the tale but I will leave that little surprise for you to find out. This song is what helps to make Hogjaw unique. Sure many can tell a story but these guys take you to the places where Smokey & The Bandit, Boss Hogg and about half the guest of Jerry Springer call home. It is a place that is fun to visit but…
This album is just rip roaring fun. With barn burners like "Three Fifty Seven", Ain't Ever Gonna Win (Without A Little Bit Of Sin) and "Ol' Slippery Wille" to get your party started in good ole hold my beer and watch this fashion, the band proves that there is always going to be a place for this type of music. How can you sit still with stuff like this coming out of the speakers? It is impossible.
I do have a favorite moment on the album. This is unusual but these guys seem to know me when they hit their Charlie Daniels moment on the ode to catfishing called "Flathead". The devil might have went down to Georgia but he sure didn't have as much fun as these guys do down at the river. I can remember putting out the night lines for channel cats and this song reminds me of those old days.
There is something about Southern Rock that just refuses to let you go away unhappy when done right. These guys do it right. They might not be going into any new territories but they take you to a place where you will be comfortable because you have been there before but excited because you also have some new and different company along for the ride. I only wish someone would talk to them about the band name!
1. Rollin Thunder
3. Three Fifty Seven
4. Ol' Slippery Willie
5. County Line
6. Ain't Ever Gonna Win (Without A Little Bit of Sin)
7. Two Guns